Netflix to eliminate mail-order service?
byFeb 25th 2009 7:00PM
Call me traditional, but I like flipping through pages to get to the climax of my novels. I enjoy reading the newspaper in the morning while sipping on tea and eating Belgian waffles. And I definitely cannot get enough of watching movies on my 42-inch-screen television, curled under a blanket with a bowl of buttered popcorn in hand. After working all day on the computer, I want to pop in a DVD and have a little romantic-comedy time.
But Netflix -- my beloved movie-rental service -- might not think that's a profitable idea anymore.
Recently, CNBC.com reported that Netflix is planning to do away with its overnight mail-order service, possibly only offering Internet-streaming movies and shows for a monthly fee of $9.99. But company spokesman Steve Swasey says, "It's all speculative at this point. Netflix is always testing and researching and investigating ways to improve its service for members."
Netflix has been trying out Internet-streaming service with its "Play" option for selected films in a member's queue, and I'm going to confess: I have used that option on multiple occasions when my desire for instant gratification kicked into high gear. However, waiting for movies to finish buffering and for the picture to stop scrambling is not my idea of relaxation. And I'm sure I won't find many movie-buffs who'd rather watch their anticipated releases on a 15-inch computer screen than a 30-inch flat-screen TV.
Yes, I know; "for only $99.99" I could purchase Roku, a digital video player that streams movies from Netflix over the Internet to my television. Also, I could buy an Xbox 360 for $200 and stream the films over Xbox Live. But I don't have extra cash laying around, and besides, why do I have to buy new technology to use the Netflix service? There are obvious reasons why I am a faithful Netflix subscriber: plentiful movie selection, speedy delivery -- but mainly, a super cheap monthly subscription fee!
A techie friend of mine tried to explain to me a way to save money and watch online videos on my television. If I were to connect my laptop's display output to the TV, the television would duplicate what is shown on my monitor. However, when he asked me what type of graphics card and cable I have, and spouted words such as VGA, S-Cable and HDMI, I began praying that Netflix wouldn't end its mail-order service.
After all, even if I did hook everything up, there's a high probability that my movie would stop to buffer after every three minutes or the picture would freeze and only words would be heard, as I've experienced previously.
According to Swasey, however, there have been no complaints. Videos start in less than 30 seconds, and unless one has a DSL or dial-up Internet connection (or one constantly rewinds and fast-forwards), there should be no dissatisfaction with the picture quality and the time it takes for the videos to buffer. Well, I have a cable modem and a high-speed Internet connection, and I often choose not to use the "Play" option in my queue for the fact that I haven't yet viewed a film that didn't frustrate me with the problems mentioned above.
But that's beside the point. If implemented, the Internet-streaming-only service will essentially only benefit Netflix. The company will save on shipping costs, grow its partnerships with companies that will offer products-for-purchase to help watch online videos via TV, while consumers will have to scramble to find money for new technology that will help them use the service problem-free. What if one can't afford to purchase Roku or switch Internet providers? What if we're exhausted from keeping up with technological advancements and just desire a morsel of the familiar? Good bye paperbacks, hello e-books. Farewell newspapers, welcome blogs. Adios movie-rental services, Internet-streaming is the way of the future.